Before I went to the French Culinary, I was pursuing a degree in Victorian Literature and amassing a cache of diverse hobbies: crocheting, photography (of my candy-making efforts), painting (really bad) still life watercolors, and surfing. I felt like I was all over the place, and my professors were a bit stymied by the papers I turned in which tended to focus less on the classic themes of literature and more on what you can learn about characters based on what was served at their parties or what comfort foods they indulged in when sad.
One day after reading the Age of Innocence, I decided to try my hand at period-inspired Victorian feast, including Blanc Mange (seemed just like panna cotta
to me), Lobster Patties and Wine Punch. Keep in mind that I wanted to keep it completely authentic (although I did have to substitute gelatin for calf’s foot).
My friends were mystified and entertained. After imbibing the Wine Punch, they were utterly inebriated. I considered it a success, both personally and professionally. I knew I wanted to combine my love of food, my passion for books and the delicious challenge of writing about the two.
Fast forward a couple years, past a variety of food-related jobs from sales at Williams-Sonoma to Girl Friday at the Barefoot Contessa and I knew I was really serious.
This was before the Food Network and the millions of food magazines now available. The only publications I knew were Gourmet and Bon Appetit. Then I found my first copies of Food and Wine and Saveur Magazine and I fell in love with the articles that featured not just the food but also the culture, the anthropology, the geography of the food that I wanted to cook. I knew I needed to go to cooking school, and I wanted a school where there would be more than just technique, that would imbue cooking lessons with the same global perspective that I had found in the magazines. It would give me the history and the knowledge to understand why I was doing something, not just how to do it.
In short, I was looking for the perfect school for me, my equivalent of Harvard for cooking. Plus, I needed a night schedule. Did such a Holy Grail exist? Only in New York folks, only in New York… In Soho to be exact: The French Culinary Institute.
It took me another two years to figure out how to move to NYC from East Hampton; I never looked back, except when I really wanted a lobster roll.
Written by Megan Susannah Moore